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12/21/2010

Steve Landesberg and the question of age

December 21, 2010 |  4:16 pm

LandesbergThe Times' story on the death of Steve Landesberg said the comic actor "was believed to be 74" while other media outlets said he was 65.

Why the difference?

Details such as birth dates are often provided to obituary writers by family members. With actors and other public figures, the information also has often been printed and posted online. It's our job to confirm the information.

Landesberg's birth date was listed as Nov. 23, 1945, in biographical material and on such websites as imdb.com. Because Landesberg lived in California, The Times was able to check his voter registration information. It showed his birth date as Nov. 23, 1936.

The Times' editorial research library also has access to information from the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. One of our librarians was able to confirm the birth date on Landesberg's driver's license as Nov. 23, 1936.

One thing we could not find was a mention of Landesberg's birth date in any newspaper stories written about him. Adding to our dilemma was a 1979 Washington Post profile in which Landesberg made it clear he didn't want anyone to know his age.

Landesberg's representatives were not able to confirm his age as we wrote the story Monday night, which is why we said he was "believed to be 74" and cited information from public records.

 -- Keith Thursby

Photo: Steve Landesberg in 2007. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

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